HC Deb 22 May 1950 vol 475 cc1655-7

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Captain SOAMES:

81. To ask the Minister of Supply how many saloon motor cars were recently sold at auction by his Department at Elstow, near Bedford, where, in many cases, the prices realised were from £50 to £75 above the list price; for what reasons these motor cars were not reallocated to Government officials, in order to avoid the necessity of supplying the latter with new motor cars; and what is the average period for which motor cars are normally maintained in Government service before disposal.

Captain Crookshank

On a point of order. The Minister declined to answer supplementary questions to Questions Nos. 69 and 71 on the grounds that he was to answer a Question on the same point later. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Captain Soames) is not here to ask Question No. 81 could the Minister now reply to the supplementary questions which have been put to him?

Mr. Mikardo

Further to that point of order. Is not it a fact that the Minister declined to reply to the supplementary questions because there was another Question on the Order Paper? If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is so concerned about it, he ought to have seen that his hon. and gallant Friend was present.

Air-Commodore Harvey

My Question was No. 71 and the Minister refused to give an answer to a supplementary. As he is unable to carry out what he said he would do later, may he now answer my supplementary question?

Mr. Speaker

It so happens that these are not points of order. I have nothing to do with what the Minister says or how he answers a Question. I deal only with the Rules of the House and, therefore, I cannot direct the Minister either to answer or not to answer.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

On a point of order. Although you have no authority to direct the Minister to answer, would not it be possible for you, Sir, to give the Minister an opportunity to answer if he wants to, because twice the discussion was cut short because we thought this Question would be answered later.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Would not it have been out of order, when the earlier Questions were being asked, for my right hon. Friend to presume that the hon. and gallant Member who put down Question No. 81 would not be in his seat to ask the Question? In any event would not he have been quite wrong to anticipate his answer to that Question?

Mr. Speaker

It is not for me to say whether the Minister is or is not out of order because a Question is on the Order Paper. It is entirely a matter for the Minister to decide. I cannot rule him out of order. In any case I had called the next Question.